The characters in Gem of the Ocean are all living in freedom, but are they truly free? How is freedom defined? Consider the characters one by one and discuss how free each seems to be. How does each person deal with his or her freedom? How does each character’s freedom change throughout the play?

August Wilson's play Gem of the Ocean deeply explores the theme of freedom. While the characters in the play are not slaves, many of them are not truly free. They are either imprisoned by their circumstances or by their guilt. Solly Two Kings, who was both a slave and a conductor on the Underground Railroad, has the best grasp of freedom and its meaning and is probably the freest character in the play.

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Let's think about the theme of freedom in August Wilson's play Gem of the Ocean. First, what is freedom? Is it merely a label like saying, “The slaves are all free now”? Or is it a state of reality, as in being able to determine one's own course of life? Or is it a state of mind, as in those who embrace freedom in their hearts are truly free? Or is it a combination of all of these?

Certainly freedom is more than a mere label, for many of the characters in Gem of the Ocean may be freed slaves or the children of freed slaves, but they do not have the ability to determine their own course in life. Take Garret Brown, for instance. Garret is an innocent man; he did not steal the bucket of nails from the mill. Yet he is accused, and no one will believe his pleas of innocence. He is not really free, for there are people, like Caesar, who would be quick to imprison him for a crime he did not commit. His word counts for nothing. Garret, however, believes that he is taking his true freedom when...

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